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Explaining gay men's unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV

Gold, Ron 2004, Explaining gay men's unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV, International journal of STD & AIDS, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 99-102, doi: 10.1258/095646204322764280.

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Title Explaining gay men's unrealistic optimism about becoming infected with HIV
Author(s) Gold, Ron
Journal name International journal of STD & AIDS
Volume number 15
Issue number 2
Start page 99
End page 102
Publisher Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2004
ISSN 0956-4624
1758-1052
Keyword(s) unrealistic optimism
gay men
cognitive account
motivational account
Summary Among the self-justifications that gay men use when deciding to have unprotected intercourse is the thought that they are at less risk than most gay men. Two explanatory models of such 'unrealistic optimism' (UO) have been proposed: while the motivational account holds that UO serves the function of bringing comfort, the cognitive account holds that UO serves no particular function, being simply a by-product of normal cognitive strategies. This study tested the prediction, derived from the motivational account, that highlighting the salience of the self-other comparison should increase UO. Gay men uninfected with HIV (n = 122) estimated both their own risk of contracting various health problems - among them, becoming infected with HIV - and that of the average gay man. The purported aim of collecting the data was varied, so as to either make the self-other comparison central to the aim or render one of the two types of estimate irrelevant to the aim. No effect on UO was found. It seems that the cognitive account provides a better explanation than does the motivational account of at least that form of UO measured in this study. Implications for AIDS education are discussed.
Language eng
DOI 10.1258/095646204322764280
Field of Research 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30002517

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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